“The interesting question would be whether there’s a Darwinian process, a kind of selection process whereby some memes are more likely to spread than others, because people like them, because they’re popular, because they’re catchy or whatever it might be”*…
The Spice Girls released their first single, Wannabe, in 1996 but its legacy clearly lives on. Researchers at Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, and the University of Amsterdam named it the catchiest song of all time in a test of how quickly people can name a tune.
The researchers created an interactive site, Hooked on Music, to ask 12,000 people to listen to the 40 best-selling songs from each decade, beginning with the 1940s. People could identify Wannabe in 2.29 seconds, placing it at the top of the pile. Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley all have two songs in the top 20—though Billie Jean is only 15th, with some listeners taking 2.97 seconds to identify its iconic beat. (Who are these people?)…
See–and hear– the 10 catchiest songs at “Science: This is the catchiest song of all time.”
* Richard Dawkins
As we battle earwigs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1709 that Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was rescued after spending four years marooned on a desert island (Juan Fernandez, in the South Pacific, just over 400 miles off the coast of Chile). Selkirk’s sojourn in a meme-free zone inspired Daniel Dafoe to create Robinson Crusoe, and William Cowper to coin an immortal phrase in his poem “The Solitude Of Alexander Selkirk”:
I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.